Part 46: death from above 4098

What do you mean, little sister?

Niara, for the time being, was silent, leaving them to ruminate on the subject.

He won't answer you. Niara prefers to watch his prey squirm.

Fine. Then come on.

Whoa whoa whoa, excuse me?

I'm not leaving.

Okay, I get how you feel, but you can't fight and we're about to go into battle against a guy who destroyed an entire planet.

...We may need Mio's help to carry Chisa, though.

Right. Now c'mon, get up.

She forced me into a standing position and put my arm around her shoulder. Impelled by her energy, I walked with her out of inertia.

As it so happens, the chest you get after beating Mizuchi contains the Cool Jacket, the ultimate armor for Samurai. I, uh... won't be making use of it for the time being.

What the hell is this about?

Didn't I already tell you?

Not in a way that makes sense.


Ugh, fine. Then we'll go beat it out of this bastard.

We'd ascended past the cloud line and well into Niara's personal bubble of the upper atmosphere. The lining of this place, with its gold leaf patterns and prismatic bridges, was strikingly opulent even given the situation—it was, in that sense, just to Niara's tastes.

Twilight Wings have the same moves as the Hawk Chief midboss from a while back—Bolt Wing, an all-target with a Paralysis rider, and a speed buff for the party. They aren't much trouble. However...

I opt to use it to lure in that dragon over there, seeing as how it's off the platform.

The dragon on its way in consumed the bird, ready to do the same to them.

Here it comes!

Dracoprisms are our semi-final Dragon variety for the maingame, and as far as fliers go they're no joke—2700 HP and a number of rough moves.

Wrong move, asshole!



Richter's Reactor Cheer auto skill gives a slight recovery to HP and MP when a React goes off.

Aaargh! What the hell—!

It's attempting to rupture our blood vessels through sonic blasts!

This is a 75% chance for a 29 to 34 Bleed. It's pretty nasty.

Fuck off!

...Hmhmhm. I must admit that there is something to your rapport. It is somewhat less interesting without the banal comments your flock is so wont to bandy about.


When Nodens first expressed to me an interest in this particular crop, I had thought her mad, but time and again I have been proven wrong.

Hey, shithead. It's impolite to talk without properly introducing yourself first.

What stunning impudence this one possesses! How quaint. Very well, then. I shall open a dialogue on your level.

I am Niara, the third of seven True Dragons. My aim is to consume and extinguish all life on your world. If you cannot surpass my drakelings, I shall be quite disappointed.

And here's our last maingame Dragon variety. Cannon Dragons are absolute bastards—they have defense stats higher than any other enemy in the maingame by a mile, and have the same tricks as Tower Dragons and the Tower Draggy before them. They only have 2200 HP, but with their raw 210 DEF and MDF they're going to make you work for it.

I've got it handled for a moment, you two!

Richter. Richter st—stop Quick Hacking these new scary enemies it—it makes it hard to—

Engaging soporific routines!

Gwahahahaha! A mortal mite having managed to access the realm of information? Truly fascinating!

When Hacked, Shutdown is a guaranteed Sleep, ignoring any resistances.

Thanks. Let's take it out, Youka!

Promptly, now!

Come, divine lightning!


Many races before you have struggled and perished, and yet only through appropriating the power of Dragons do you survive. Is this the mindset that you find so fascinating, VFD?


So, you mean to tell us that our captain is one of your ilk?

Please, elaborate!

Would it be not simpler if she explained it herself?


Well it would be nice, wouldn't it?

Indeed. Let me hear it in your words, little sister.

...Dragons as a race exist to evolve. Their biological imperative is to continue evolving. Like humans take from the Dragons to survive here, Dragons take from the creatures they devour whatever minor aspects can further them. The more information, the more complex dragons a True Dragon's Bloom can produce.

The purpose of it all is to create the 7th True Dragon, VFD. VFD is the concept all draconic evolution aspires to—a being whose existence contains all of evolution within itself. Once it's created, VFD devours the world in its totality, and the divine experiment begins again in the new world created by VFD.

VFD is supposed to be a conceptual being, created through the natural processes of the Dragon life cycle. But—

A poor, sad little thing on this very planet granted me the opportunity that I had always longed for.


What are you talking about?! Chisa's a human! She can't be some kind of dragon god!


No, hold on! I understand!

If this is true, then Dragons are inherently information-based beings—that's why I can use YUUHI to hack into them! Working within a conceptual space, this 'VFD' is the concept of the peak of evolution, yes?


So if someone were to attempt to create something along those lines, even if not draconic in nature, that being would have the potential to carry the essence of the conceptual 'VFD'!

Wait, like how her body is garbage collected?!

Yes, exactly! The intent of this Project NEW GAME was to create a human with capabilities beyond that of an ordinary person, and we've seen Chisa demonstrate that time and again—her mastery over the elements with her blade, her knowledge of the dragons and Hypnos... This is why!

So you're telling me that the creation of this 'hero' passed through conceptual space to create someone who was simultaneously a human girl and the 7th True Dragon?

That's correct.

RICHTER!! I'm trying to get across that these enemies are actually really dangerous!! WORK WITH ME HERE (it dies)

But how, though?! If... if... but... that doesn't make sense!

You've seen it yourself.

I don't care if you cut your dad's arm off, Chisa! That doesn't make sense! You weren't—You weren't a dragon back on Iorys, and it was clearly the same consciousness before and after the switch!

No, it—

Shut up! I don't want to hear it! I'm talking right before and right after!

We had to retrace our steps.

There's something that marks a 'dragon', there's gotta be, otherwise Takehaya couldn't have broken Aunt Natsume's barrier! Even if you—!

Oh? Does the girl from the other world truly not know what it is she herself was present for?


As Raven Hillshead, I killed a True Dragon. That was the moment Raven, or the monster who was once Raven, became eligible to become VFD.

My younger brother Tyrant, fourth of the seven, and only of the seven of us to have perished.


The monster at the top of Yggdrasil was the 4th True Dragon. It was what created life on that planet.


Surely you have gathered that it was we who bestowed the gift of wisdom to raise you from brutes. Your human evolution was guided by our hand—the man understands.

...To create races with more informational relevance, you direct evolution on planets before destroying them?!

I am certain Tyrant would not be sad to know what his death brought about. After all, to grant me the privilege of consuming a lifeform such as the Incarnate VFD... All Dragonkind would rejoice at such an opportunity!


Before we move to the next map, a bit of cleanup.

The other chest here has a Hypno Crystal.

The Dragoon is the second-best Gun, but Satsuki already has the AAA.

These are Crimson Fans. I'm sure you have an idea of how they work.

And that's Dragon's Domain X cleared out. But since we rescued all 75 people and I don't have anywhere else to put it...


Shibuki: Please try not to be alarmed. You've finally saved 75 people! This seems to be everyone left in Tokyo that we'll be able to safely escort here. When I think of how much work you've done for me while still handling your other missions, I'm profoundly grateful.

We also get two Miracle Aeros and 3 Hypno Crystals.

Shibuki: As the name suggests, it's a mix of various technological wonders that'll hopefully let you return safely, even from the final battle. But even these items are nothing in comparison to the gratitude of all the people you've rescued from death.

Okay, now City Hall's REALLY cleared out. Back to the dungeon.


Why aren't you saying anything? Do you not care if this asshole destroys the planet?

Kill me.


Kill me. Please kill me. I want to die. There's nothing left for me. I'm nothing.

No, you are not! Stop talking like that!

Everything would be better if I was dead. Kill me. Drop me off the side of the platform.

For fuck's sake, Chisa, now is not the time!



I'm not accepting questions about work right—


Huh...? I... I don't deserve to be called that. I don't.

But you can't deny that's you, right? Choosing that username was something you did. So it's you.

You're a human! You lived! You're alive! And that username is proof that you are a person! So get up and talk to us, right now!

I'd been floating off in the horribly cold void of space, but all of a sudden, I felt myself being pulled back by a tether, the handle of 'Gracia-sensei', back to earth. For the time being, I was not an alien, so I could breathe, and see the people around me.

What... how high did we get? How long have you been carrying me?

A while now. You're heavier than you look, you know that?

...I'm not surprised by that, but... thanks, Mio. I...

I slid out of her grip and managed to stand under my own power.

Glad you're at least walking now.


So, all of this talk about the Dragons raising species on planets—?

It's true. Niara didn't personally raise Earth, but he's been here once before to try and destroy it.

I think he might have a grudge. Niara's the most sadistic of us. He really enjoys playing with his food, seeing them squirm. It's a little disturbing.

Real into aesthetic, too?

Just wait until you see him.

...So it's true? You really are... a dragon?


I've spent a long time trying to deny it, covering it up with the personalities of the two people whose lives I stole. But this whole time, during this war... I've been so excited. My whole body shakes in anticipation any time I get to kill something strong. My mind tells me I'm a human, and to act like a human does, but something deep in the pit of my heart gets this sick satisfaction out of the idea of killing a strong opponent.

But I have the mind of a human, too. I live here on the ground with you guys. I relate to you. I know that these feelings of wanting to destroy and wanting to just be left alone are wrong, and that's why I've tried to deny feeling them for so long. I... I'm not a human, but I can't be a True Dragon, either.

I... I don't know what I am.

The Assault Suit is good armor for the melee classes like the Stealth Jet earlier, but I don't need it.

Can you fight?

The instant she said that, I froze. My entire body shuddered.

No. No. Please, no. No.

Don't make me fight. I don't, I can't, I don't want to—

Hey, it's okay. She was just asking.

I'm so cold please don't make me fight.

It's okay. We'll handle this.

No matter what, you're family, kid.

That's right. I concur.

It's okay. It's alright.


What if I... what if I hurt you guys? What if I—?

I won't let you.


I'm gonna keep you down here. Even if nobody else does.

...You'll... be my tether to humanity? Even though I took away the boy you loved?

Look, I take issue with that framing, but I've been dating you for a lot longer than I was Raven either way. You're the person I love. Come on.

...I love you. So much.

Oh my god, one of these actually got a turn! Holy shit!

Richter pulling through by missing! Yes!!

That's 50 poison damage! Yeahhh!!

Piss off!

It died immediately afterwards, but hey.

Shit. I need a drink. Or five.

You okay? You're pushing yourself pretty hard.

This is the last battle. When else am I going to push myself?

Ugh, there we go. Those ones are terrible.

I agree.

How'd you know to call her that?

I'm... kinda used to having those moments where I just don't register names I feel alienated from. I thought it'd be the best way to get her back down out of that headspace, I guess?


I mean, I'm not a human dragon, but I know a thing or two about dissociating and internalized alienation, yeah?

hey have you noticed that there's like, nothing for me to do. are you two monster-repellant? i'm not complaining, but.

...Maybe? I'm not sure.

Thanks for looking out anyway.


Out of the way, shithead! We've got a friend to save!

And a planet as well.

That too, yeah.

It's free of its shackles!

Not to worry. It's also open.


Koron had Concentrate up, while Youka's Quintet was Exhausted, so that's a 1.5x multiplier versus a 2.5x multiplier. The point is, Youka doesn't have a charge skill, but she really, really doesn't need one.

Oh, I think there's loot this way.

Hey, asshole. What's with the treasure chests? This place didn't even exist until a week and a half ago.

Have you no understanding of the aesthetic value of a series of treasure chests with arbitrary trinkets?


Actually, this explains a lot about your hoarding habit.

My hoarding habit?

It's true. She had to do an impression of you and talk to herself when we found items in the tower itself that we couldn't carry to satisfy that aspect of our dynamic.


Pffft. Hahahaha, what?

Look, these things matter to me, oka—

hey can i wear that that's good

The Diablerie is Satsuki's ultimate armor, and the Dreadskull is Youka's best weapon that isn't her raw, bulging pythons.

Guys, watch out!

The Vortex Golem is our final variety of random enemy, with 1200 HP and solid physical defense to its name. It does golem things, pretty hard.


It's pretty weak to Koron's spells, though.

No matter how many of you come, we'll tear you all down!

Sounding like a real fighter now, Richter!

If I am to enter battle against a god, I should swallow my fear and act the part, yes?

...yeah so these guys also have Fire Breath and a Death Fang attack that absorbs the damage it deals as health but like, I have Hard Target Bare Knuckle Youka and the fight starts with an all-target status move, these guys just die.

My doubling-back habit helped me this time, so that's all of Dragon's Domain Y cleared.

A culture flourishing for the purpose of its demise, and a dragon who takes shelter within it... how adorable these games are that you play. Quaint, that VFD herself would hide amidst livestock. Do you not agree?


Quivering within that form, afraid of your own power... I shall always remember surpassing such an amusingly contradictory existence.

Don't respond to him. He's just trying to get a rise out of you.

I know.

You think she could've grown this thing any taller?

...Haaah. Damn it. I can keep going.

Please pace yourself, Koron. Even if we win, it won't mean anything if we lose you.

See these dots? These are the last 6 dragons on the counter. Ain't that crazy?


Shutdown didn't miss this time.

Damn, this is a lot of walls.

They're trying to defend their father.

As your little flock attempts to defend their 'captain'.

We aren't the same as your spawn. We protect our world, and her, because of our will. These little things just run on instinct. They can't possibly defeat us.

Again, the impudent one speaks beyond her station! Gahahahaha!


Oh, I can move!

Say what you will about Emille, but that bracer does work.

Your defenses are nothing to me!

We'll break down however many of these things you throw in our way!

Reverse course, ensign!

I... really do have a problem, don't I?

it's okay it happens

Anyway, back to our relentless advance.

Man, y'know, I haven't really gotten to see you guys in actual action before. They're really impressive, huh?


Haa... haa... just a bit further. We're almost there...

Here, c'mon.

Ahh, that's better. Thanks.

Our final obstacle stood in our way—a great, hulking brute and two allies flanking his side.

Are you two ready?

Let's kick some ass!

As you could likely tell, our last dragon fight is going to be a three-fer—those two Dracoprisms will be asserting themselves momentarily. Richter sets up Attack Booster, and Koron, Rescue React, just in case.

Do your worst!

Yes, please do!

One of them's coming in!

Not to worry!

I'll buy us a moment!


Nice moves there, sonny boy!

The other one's trying to fly in!

That supposed to hurt?

There it is! Watch out, guys!

All of you, fall from the sky! Burn up in the atmosphere! Begone from my sight!


Know what happened to the last guy who tried that, buster?

Nothing good!


Haa... haa...

Koron fell onto the floor, clutching her chest. She was sweating profusely.


I'm fine... I'll—I'll live, I—

She started coughing, an unpleasant, hacking noise.

Sorry, I... I think I might be spent.

Koron slumped over into Satsuki's arms, and Satsuki transferred her to Mio. Her body was trembling as I took her from Mio.

Sure you're gonna live?

No. Is anyone?


Then I'll...

I'll take point. For... the fight.

I'll handle the triage.

Are you sure? You're not—

Man, I'm the archivist. I know this unit's tech better than anyone. I know what I'm doing.

I'm worth both of them combined, honestly.

True enough.

...I wish... I wish I could just stay with you guys forever.

Everyone was quiet for a moment, but they turned to me.

I wish that I didn't have to talk to anyone else in the world. I wish I could just stay with you guys. I'm... I'm scared. I'm scared of the rest of the world.

...Yeah. But... I mean, we've gotta take that when we get there, right?

I'm scared.

I know.

There we go—the final exit from the final dungeon. And to get our confirmation...

200/200. The dragon counter's at 0, baby. Our last remaining target is the big man himself.

Next time on Sympathy for Chisa Inomiko: The end of 7th Dragon 2020.

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